Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Weekend Trip to Louisiana

Typically I'm not really big into celebrating Memorial Day or Labor Day, but this weekend I really wanted to go somewhere or do something (especially since it was an extra day off of work for Brian). Brian did not want to go anywhere or do anything, but just relax, play some computer games, and watch tv. So what did we decide to do? We went somewhere and did something... specifically we went to Louisiana for the first time (I'm a great motivator and good at convincing others). Actually it was Brian's idea to go in the first place. There were a few things we thought we'd see in Shreveport - specifically... alligators and the boardwalk.

Our first stop was at the Bass Pro shop that had a little outdoor pool area with 3 alligators lounging around. So this Kansas girl finally got to see her alligators (after almost a year of begging to go see them)! (Yeah... I know... Brian thinks it's kind of dorky too).

Then we had heard so much about the Boardwalk in Shreveport so we next headed over to walk along the riverside and see what the Boardwalk had to offer. Mostly they had several shops (Banana Republic, Gap, rue21, etc...) and resturaunts (Joe's Crab Shack, Hooters, Saltgrass, etc...)

However, they did have a carousel there and we figured that might be something Sophie would enjoy doing. At first we tried a horse, but Sophie was terrified of it's height (even with Mom holding on to her) and the up and down movement.

Halfway through we settled for the lobster, which was stationary. After awhile, she seemed pretty satisfied with it and seemed to get a little more comfortable with the idea.

Afterwards we spent the remainder of the afternoon shopping, eating at the Saltgrass, and walking along the side of the river. By three in the afternoon we were tired and ready to head back.

The drive from Camden to Shreveport is about a 2.5 hour drive, but there were some neat things we saw along the day. For example, near Stamp, AR we saw a zebra (apparently someones pet that was kept inside their fenced in yard) and we saw our first Piggly Wiggly! (Yes... I did have to take a picture of it to prove it.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Commemorating the Beginning of Summer!

Now that school is over until August, I felt it was necessary to commemorate this event in some way. Luckily, the Tomkos had the perfect idea and way to start celebrating the summer. We met at their place for the kids to have a pool party.

And again, Sophie decked out in her swimsuit wanted nothing to do with the pool. So instead we pushed Sophie on the swing.

She loved it when Brian would give her a big push.

And my biggest perk of the evening is that we ordered pizza for supper (which meant I didn't need to cook or clean up afterward)!!!!!

Definitely a great way to start the summer! Currently I have no idea if I'll be getting a job this summer or where I'll be getting a job this summer. Until I figure out whether it is worth it to work somewhere for 3 months, I'll be staying at home and having adventures with Sophie while Brian is away at work.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Elementary Learning

I made it through a year of teaching at the primary and secondary level here in Camden, AR! Most of my time though was spent at one of the three elementary school buildings and during my time there as a librarian (of sorts) I learned at lot from my experience. It had been years since I had been inside an elementary school for any reason, so this was a huge change for me, but I learned a lot.

For those of you who have been away from an elementary school for several years or wish to get a 'teacher' viewpoint from within... here is my list of things I learned this year.

1) Teachers who decide to teach kindergarten through 5th grade are an extremely rare and wonderful breed of people, because these teachers are surrounded by hyperactive, "I need more band-aids", excessive excuse creators. And they deal with these children ALL DAY! It's not like at the secondary or college level where you deal with them for an hour and then get a brand new bunch... nope you get these little ones and all their complaints, excuses, emotional fits, can't sit still children the whole time until the end of the year.

2) When encountering an elementary student for the first few times... assume NOTHING. Don't assume that because they are in 3rd grade that they can do basic addition and subtraction. Don't assume that they can follow basic thought processes. Don't assume that life at home is cheerful and Mom and Dad value education as much as teachers. So, when some of them do surprise you by their knowledge, common sense, and parental support- it is a delightful surprise (rather than having it be a devastating disappointment)

3) If you give a child no excuses for anything... and you stick by your consequences... after a dozen or so times... they start to get the picture (for a week).

4) As a teacher you can go crazy and weird in the classroom to try and teach them something and they will remember that and the material better. Unfortunately, any awkward moments such as an ugly costume or funny dance moves will be remembered as well.

5) After lots of observation I found that without adult supervision... children are incapable of walking. Their legs cannot cooperate and walk... instead they have to skip or more commonly run.

6) Kids have to go to the bathroom 5 times more than regular adults. Just accept this concept and give in... because if you don't (because they went to the bathroom 30 minutes ago) they will wet themselves no matter where they are or what you are talking about.

7) Kids' favorite times are recess and PE and if there is a smart teacher who can figure out a way to integrate and do math, reading and writing with running, tackling, jumping, and other forms of physical exercise they would have a fortune. (Writing about "football" while sitting in a quiet classroom does not count and does not work... trust me on this one)

8) Overall, kids don't care about tests. Doesn't matter if you call it a Benchmark, Landmark, or Question mark.

9) Never deny nor confirm the existence of Santa Clause to elementary children. This is dangerous territory. I was able to slip by by carefully sighting that a "Saint Nicholas was a real person" and just continued to repeat the phrase over and over again.

10) You have to explain everything in small words so they can understand. And don't be surprised by what they ask you, but also... don't be surprised about what they already know (that's right... I'm talking about S-E-X among other things)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

3 More Down... Millions More to Go

Unless you are recently an Oney family blog reader you will know that we've had mice problems (and that is being subtle about it). We FINALLY got the landlord to come and put mouse poison in unreachable areas for Sophie and Oscar as well as sealing an area in the kitchen under the sink that leads indirectly outside. And while we pray that this will be the end of the mouse situations... we've caught 3 more.

Two of them myself:

And another caught by Brian:

Unfortunately catching mice has become somewhat of a norm for us and today I wondered since moving here exactly how many mice we've caught. I looked back at the blog and the few "unreported kills" and calculated a total of 18 mice.

If we were to break this total down it shows:

Oscar kills: 2
Stacey kills: 14
Brian kills: 2
Sophie kills: 0

Is it just me or is this sad? You know how during World War 2 planes would keep a record of their "kills" on their airplanes?

Perhaps we need to keep a log of our "kills" as well. Currently it would look like this:

A Kiss Goodnight

Before Sophie goes to bed we have a few requirements (that I'm sure I've listed at some point in this blog). We gather all the needed accessories (i.e. bunny, blanket, pacifier, book, and bottle) and place them on or near the recliner. And before we snuggle together in the recliner and read a book, Sophie has to give Dad a goodnight kiss. Sometimes she'll remember and will go over to Brian (typically sitting at his computer) and tug on him and lean her little face forward for his kiss. Other times I'll remind her and she will promptly go to her father and receive the necessary kiss before spending time with Mom and a good book.

Well tonight Sophie remembered to give her father a kiss. However, after giving him a kiss, she by passed her mother and went straight for Oscar the dog and made sure to give him a goodnight kiss as well. Warmed my heart. Brian and I just looked at each other and laughed and smiled at how Sophie decided tonight that perhaps Oscar needed a goodnight kiss as well.

I wish I would have had my camera for photo or video purposes because it was just so sweet!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Party in the Park

Since moving here we have been blessed that Sophie has attended several children's birthday parties. And typically for those parties we do not carry our camera; however, since the party was taking place at Logoly State Park, I decided it wouldn't hurt to take it along if we did some hiking or perhaps a photo op with Sophie and the alligator they have inside the Visitors Center.

While we didn't do either- the hiking or visit the alligator- the kids spent most of their time on the outdoor playground. Sophie quickly joined in although in the past she has been fairly skittish about playing on playground equipment and preferring to just walk around the park. However, with the little boys there to help her... she joined right in and even attempted to climb the ladder leading to the tallest slide.

Likewise, we do not typically bring Oscar to children's birthday parties or even birthday parties at all, but again since we were at the park... Oscar got to join in the fun and merriment.

However, despite how fun it was playing on the playground... the best part for the kids I think was the cupcake cake created by Lindsey for Patrick's birthday.

Patrick is on the right and his brother Gabriel is on the left.

However, while everyone else made their way to the visitors center to check out local wildlife (i.e. snakes and alligators), it was already past Sophie's bedtime and therefore time for us to go. And sure enough about 5 miles from Logoly... I looked back and saw this:

Thank you Tomkos for the entertainment, hot dogs, and cake... they were thoroughly appreciated.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Two for Tea & Blackberries

Yesterday Sophie and I were invited to the Haner Household to pick some wild blackberries growing in their yard. However, as we met the ladies at the door, Sophie was invited to play with Caroline and events later resulted in a tea party (that was after two time outs for Sophie for hitting her hostess and friend).

It was quite adorable.

"Would you care for some tea Caroline?"

"Your mum is quite kind. After my time out I don't think my mom would be nice enough to give us cookies"

"I'll share my cookies and toys with her mom... but she did still hit me."

"By the way, I am most apologetic for my outrageous behavior and hitting... will you forgive me?"

After tea, Caroline continued to graciously share her toys and the girls took cars to the blackberry bushes. I did not realize that blackberry bushes have thorns so I was grateful for Heathers forethought to bring the cars as entertainment for the girls.

Both girls apparently love blackberries and were constantly squealing and voicing their desires for "more" while we were slowly picking them. I think about half of the ones I picked ended up going in their mouths. But it was nice to see them get along and have fun.

"Mom... did you not here me say 'More'?"

Thank you Caroline and Heather... not just for the blackberries... but for the time the girls had together.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

6 in 1

So after returning from a long trip for graduation weekend, Brian and I literally put our luggage down and crashed. And I was so grateful that due to previous cleaning the house was tidy, with the exception of the contents from the trip that were scattered across the floor.

Anyway, we go to work and I decide to make Brian a nice meal. I go to open my top cupboard pantry and I find that during the course of 3 days... the mice have discovered I have food up there and completely wrecked it! I had to throw away noodles, oatmeal, brown sugar, a box of macaroni and cheese, and goodness knows what else. I am furious! And I know that one mouse could not do all of this damage in just 3 days!

So I set out a two traps and add the incentive of a small piece of real Alma cheese (I know... awful way to use good cheese but I was desperate) from my refrigerator.

By midnight I felt similar to the "Brave Little Tailor" who kills 8 flies in 1 swat. Except... I caught 6 mice in 1 night. One trap caught 2! And another difference is that no matter how glad I am that I decreased the mouse population by 6, I'm still upset that I even had 6 mice in my home at all!

One, Two, Three:




Jump Around!

While in Wichita, Sophie rediscovered the king-size trampoline at my parent's house. When we visited in March, she got a little bit of play time on it but was mostly unsure of everything and mostly kept her little arms wrapped around me or my sister Ashley. Well... this time, as soon as she was put on the trampoline she knew exactly what to do and got started moving her little feet up and down! She even tossed aside her pacifier so it wouldn't get in the way of her performance! Anyway, here are a couple of videos of Sophie on the trampoline.

*Note- Videos were filmed vertically and therefore they will appear sideways on the blog*

Monday, May 17, 2010

Traveling with Kids

Since we've had Sophie we have been excellent travellers. However, Sophie had outgrown her infant car seat. But we delayed on an upgrade because our selection in Camden is "what is at Walmart" and "what is at Walmart".

Sophie in her infant car seat on her way to Nebraska:

While we were in Nebraska... Sophie got an upgrade to a car seat/booster seat.

Well, obviously since we were 13 hours away from Camden, AR it was not easy to just leave it somewhere and pick it up later. And the truck was full of luggage... so what do you do with an infant car seat?

Apparently, Oscar provided a solution.

Now we had safety seats for both of our babies.

Graduation Weekend

This May we had 9 graduates in 5 different states getting a bachelors, masters, or doctorate degree. And while we couldn't visit everyone and celebrate their academic achievements on the same day (Saturday, May 15th), we did make the trip to Nebraska and Kansas to see my two sisters graduate- Suzi with her doctorate in pharmacy from Creighton University, and Elizabeth with her bachelors in business and human resources from Kansas State University.

We first went to Suzi's hooding ceremony in Omaha, Nebraska on Friday.

We then planned on driving to Manhattan, Kansas on Saturday to see Elizabeth graduate, but we were delayed and did not make it.

Luckily for us we did arrive in Wichita on Sunday for their mutual graduation party.

Unfortunately we had to leave Sunday afternoon so we could be back for work on Monday. And after leaving around 6pm, we arrived in Camden around 5am. Overall though it was worth it to see two of my sisters graduate from college with degrees!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

What He'd Do For Food

Oscar, our dog, loves his family. However, he loves food more. And the most likely source for getting food (human food... not the dog food kibble that he regularly gets) is from Sophie. So he tends to pay her more attention than anyone else in the family. He truly loves her and likes to play with her and her toys as well, but when it comes to food... well... he's gone.

Case in point... this video shows Sophie wondering around the house with a cupcake in her hand. You'll notice that Oscar is never far from her and he never loses eye contact with the cupcake or Sophie for very long.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Fowl Mood?

As promised here is the video of the ducks at the Peabody making their debut of the day.

For those who are unaware of these lifetime guests at the Peabody allow me to cliff note it. For the longer version... look at the previous posting about our Mother's Day in Little Rock. The Peabody Hotel is the only hotel that houses the unique guests of mallard ducks. And every day at 11am, the ducks, with the assistance of the Duck Master (since they can't push the buttons on the elevator), ride the elevator down and proceed down the red carpet and into the water fountain inside the hotel.

And while in Little Rock over the weekend... Sophie, Brian and I witnessed the event. And now, with the video you can view the mallards walking down the red carpet and into the water fountain.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mother's Day in Little Rock

Many moms on Mother's Day are showered with words of praise and gifts of flowers, chocolates, and meals cooked for them; all made to show their appreciation for the sacrifices a Mom makes for her children. And while over the years these things can perhaps become cliche' or routine... it definitely beats alternatives. This Mother's Day we were planning on going to Shreveport, LA where we could walk the boardwalk, eat out, stay in a nice hotel, and go to an alligator farm. Instead my gift for Mother's Day was the additional responsibility of 6 teenagers! Yeah.... some of you Moms out there... chocolates aren't looking too bad are they now?!

Due to last minute issues, I was asked to be the female sponsor and chaperon for 4 teenage girls; Mark Grummer was the male sponsor for the 2 teenage boys. So at least their was some shared responsibility over the teens- and I was extremely happy by all that Mark did for me! Anyway, so Brian and Sophie came with Mark, myself, and the teenagers to Little Rock to attend the Catholic State Youth Conference. And while it wasn't all bad trying to wrestle with hormonal teens and issues that I'd hope to avoid for at least a decade, I did get to skip out during part of the conference and spend time with Brian touring Little Rock.

We went and saw the State Capitol building in Little Rock, which was on my list of places to see in Arkansas. It was laid out just like the Capitol building in Washington DC, but is obviously a much smaller size.

Next we made our way to the Peabody Hotel, where ducks live and every morning at 11 am, proceed down the elevator, across the red carpet, and swim in the hotels water fountain. The Duck Master was there to guide them at the appointed time. Ever wonder what job experiences and qualifications someone needs to have to be a Duck Master?

The duck master is the man in the elevator and you can see the ducks heads near his legs peering out of the elevator.

Lastly we visited the "Old State House", which was the capitol building before 1917. By the end of World War I, Arkansas had built and moved into the current capitol building (the one I showed you previously that looks like the one in Washington DC). It was transformed into a museum and we toured around it a bit. But most of our time was spent in the Train room, which was a kind of "kiddie play area" where kids could play with trains.

And they also had an exhibit called "100 Years of Boy Scouts", which I HAD to take a picture of my Eagle Scout in there! Brian grudgingly let me take the picture of him next to some old uniforms and boyscout merit badges.

Afterwards, we walked along the waterfront of the Arkansas River (pronounced R-Kansas back home).

However, those few hours with Brian and Sophie were blissful and enjoyable as we walked around Arkansas' capital city. And after the drive back to Camden, I was able to get a little nap. And I will say this, I did not have to cook. Instead we got a pizza and I treated myself to a much needed beer! And anyone who has ever had or has teenagers (let alone 6 of them) knows exactly WHY I needed a beer! But to all the mother's out there- Happy Mothers Day. And to all the kids out there... remember your Mothers today... please!!!!! One day you'll look back and realize just how much a mother does for you.

*I had a video of the ducks in procession... but due to the overwhelming amount of pictures on the blog... it wouldn't allow me to post the video. So I'll post the video another day on another post.*